The audience was greeted by two security guards in black suits and sunglasses at the door of You Should Try… at this year’s You Are Here festival, and that was just the beginning of an evening of laughs, terrible cooking and awkward moments.
You Should Try… is part of a microwave cooking series hosted by Amelia de Frost on YouTube with occasional live tapings like this one, and the security guards are there to prevent any dangerous weapons or overenthusiastic fans getting too close. De Frost is clearly a celebrity in the microwave cooking community and You Should Try… was a comedy performance that took itself very seriously. De Frost encouraged the audience to do the same, resulting in an atmosphere of absurdity that was a joy to be a part of.
De Frost herself is a modern woman with a penchant for gold lamé and blue eye shadow who knows how to work the crowd. By assuming the audience was already infatuated with her she made it so, largely due to her unique stage persona. If not for the pun in her name, de Frost would have been utterly convincing; glamorous, brash and unapologetically obsessed with microwaves.
The Club, You Are Here’s temporary home, was decorated for the occasion and filled with so many of de Frost’s fans that the crowd was forced to spill out onto the street. The performance was Auslan interpreted and drew a diverse audience, from families with kids and pets to students and festival regulars. You Should Try… even featured a live band and camera crew, adding to the impression that the audience had stumbled into a low-budget game show or a badly planned infomercial.
As the performance progressed, de Frost interviewed a dog from the audience, chose two volunteers to compete in an onion-cooking contest, and presented the winner with a pair of underpants with her face on them. This was all completely in character. She also berated her crew, showed educational videos about onions and had a guest on the show declare his love for her. Technical difficulties only added to her chaotic charm and by the time the final confetti was falling, the audience was completely immersed in her fantasy.
On the rare occasions when the premise of You Should Try… seemed to be wearing thin, de Frost was so thoroughly likeable that the audience forgave her. Her infectious enthusiasm and her passion for microwave cooking made a case for the pure enjoyment of the unconventional and uncool, elevating an everyday activity into an art form. She was alternately inspiring, rude, narcissistic and mesmerising. In de Frost’s own words, “It was so exciting and so boring at the same time,” and the audience couldn’t look away.
Express Media’s Buzzcuts program is presented in Canberra in partnership with Scissors Paper Pen and You Are Here. Visit buzzcuts.org.au for more.
Image: Amelia de Frost
Molly McLaughlin is a freelance writer and passable Economics student from a small town in NSW. She writes for HerCanberra and has been published in Feminartsy, with work forthcoming in Demos and Woroni. She likes eavesdropping on public transport, cheese pizza and Instagram poets. She lives in Canberra, for now.